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Updated: 8 hours 55 min ago

With Helix’s Help, Lose It Adds Genetic Insights to Weight Loss App

13 hours 10 min ago

Does your genetic code contain information that can help you lose weight?

It’s a serious question in science, and in business. Now, the makers of Lose It aim to find out. The nine-year-old mobile app—from Boston-based parent company FitNow—was early in the field of using smartphones to log workouts and meals, and track progress toward health goals. Users aren’t guaranteed to shed pounds, of course, but a National Institutes of Health study last year found that the app’s most dedicated users lose weight nearly 73 percent of the time.

Now, the 25-person company is entering new—and more complicated—territory with... Read more »

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After Mobile App Success, Rock My World Introduces Fitness Chatbot

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 12:35

Adam Riggs-Zeigen has come a long way since 2013, when he co-founded San Diego’s Rock My World and introduced the mobile app RockMyRun to provide upbeat music playlists to motivate smartphone-equipped runners.

“We found that it expanded into other avenues, like fitness studios,” Riggs-Zeigen recalled in a recent interview. The following year, the startup created an algorithm that automatically adjusts the rhythm and tempo of songs to match the user’s pace and heart rate. “The algorithm to manipulate music tempo based on steps didn’t come in until mid-2014, because it was really challenging to develop that software,” he said. “We’re manipulating... Read more »

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$200M Invested For a Global Network of Indoor Farms? That’s Plenty

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:00

Agtech startup Plenty has reeled in $200 million in financing as the company presses forward on its plans to build a global network of indoor vertical farms.

Softbank Vision Fund of Japan led the Series B funding round for South San Francisco, CA-based Plenty. The round included investments from affiliates of Louis Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital Management, as well earlier investors Innovation Endeavors, Bezos Expeditions, DCM, Data Collective, and Finistere Ventures.

The founders of Plenty say they aim to site their farms near major cities. By growing plants vertically, these farms can produce more food from a smaller footprint... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Obamacare Persists, FDA Approves, Vertex Wows & More

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 07:45

The attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act took a major hit this week from Senate GOP holdouts who said the Better Care Reconciliation Act either tore down Medicaid too much or left too much of the ACA in place.

A straight-up repeal, floated by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, was also shot down. But as of this writing, McConnell will allow a vote next week to start open debate, much less tightly controlled than the secretive BCRA that went nowhere.

Those following the healthcare drama might need extra insurance for the whiplash of watching President Donald Trump... Read more »

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New Frontier: Space Center Crowdfunds for Mission Control Facelift

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 16:02

Houston—Houston, Mission Control has a problem.

The storied control room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston—recognizable to many of us from 1960s news clips of the dawn of the Space Age–is in need of a face-lift. And so, Space Center Houston, the visitor’s center for the JSC, has turned to the latest in financing tools, crowdfunding, for help.

“Help us keep history alive for future generations and inspire people of all ages through the wonders of space exploration,” William T. Harris, president and CEO of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation and Space Center Houston, says... Read more »

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Christopher Ahlberg: The Full Xconomy Voices Interview

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 14:57

The second episode of Xconomy’s new podcast, Xconomy Voices, features Recorded Future co-founder and CEO Christopher Ahlberg. His Somerville, MA-based cybersecurity company monitors both the public, visible Web and the Internet’s darker corners for “threat intelligence” that can help its clients prepare for, and fend off, cyber attacks.

Ahlberg’s background in data analytics and his perspective on cyber threats make him a compelling figure in the national cybersecurity discussion. Here’s the full transcript of our interview, which took place a few months ago. (This Q&A includes a lot of material not found in the podcast.)

Xconomy: Can... Read more »

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A.I. Prizes, Coming to Healthcare, Hit $1M Mark in Cancer Contests

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 09:58

This story is part of an Xconomy series on artificial intelligence in healthcare. Some of the other stories cover a genomics hackathon, A.I. and radiology, and the impact on doctors and patients.

In the classic 1967 film “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman’s just-out-of-college character gets one word of career advice from a family friend: plastics.

In healthcare, there’s a growing rumble of advice about which career not to go into: radiology. In the next five or ten years, some observers say, machines will replace the human experts who scan our medical images for cancer and broken bones. That... Read more »

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SoftBank-Led $114M Round Puts Qualcomm’s Brain Corp. on New Path

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 21:12

San Diego’s Brain Corp., founded in 2009 as a Qualcomm-incubated startup to develop software and computer systems that emulate the human brain, seems to have found a new path forward. SoftBank’s new Vision Fund has led a $114 million investment to advance the company’s artificial intelligence technology.

Qualcomm Ventures, which previously invested about $11 million in Brain Corp., was the only other investor in the Series C funding round.

SoftBank’s share of the funding (the split was not disclosed) came from what has been described as the biggest tech fund in history. In May, SoftBank revealed the first close in its... Read more »

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Xconomy Voices, Episode 2: Christopher Ahlberg of Recorded Future

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 10:03

On our new Xconomy Voices podcast, we find the smartest, most successful entrepreneurs and innovators in Xconomy’s network of cities and regions, and we ask them to open up about what they’re working on, what they’re excited about, and why they think their company, product, or idea is going to take the world by storm.

Today, we’re very pleased to roll out Episode 2: Our guest is Christopher Ahlberg, the CEO of Recorded Future, a cybersecurity startup based in Somerville, MA. Recorded Future has an intriguing approach to solving some of the biggest problems in data and network security.... Read more »

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What Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf Sees in San Diego (and Other Hubs)

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 15:30

The Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf came to San Diego recently on an unusual quest—to meet with dozens of local technology leaders and assess what the region has to offer in terms of innovation. It was Veni, Vidi, Vinti. He came. He saw. He Cerfed.

The visit was unusual in part because of Cerf himself. As a co-designer of the basic protocol for transmitting data packets over the Internet, Cerf has attained a kind of elder statesman status in the tech industry. He has served in a host of influential roles: as a distinguished visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory;... Read more »

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Startup WiseWear Connects With Ingenu on Wearable Security Device

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 12:44

San Antonio—WiseWear, a San Antonio-based wearable technology maker, has created a new product that uses a low-power wireless network to help users stay connected to an emergency alert services around the globe.

The company and its partner on the device, San Diego-based Ingenu, plan to sell it as a small, circular piece of Internet-connected technology that can be attached to a keychain, clip, or watch, as a security measure people such as children, the elderly, executives, international travelers, or high-risk (read: wealthy) people. Called Vigilant, it will be WiseWear’s second product, following a line of Internet-connected jewelry that allows users... Read more »

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Akcea Slashes IPO Price Ahead of Filing for Rare Disease Drug

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 10:06

Akcea Therapeutics is joining the parade of biotechs going public, but the company had to cut its stock price and sell more shares in order to pull it off.

Cambridge, MA-based Akcea had planned on raising $125 million from the initial public offering, and it hit that target. But the biotech priced its offering of 15.6 million shares at $8 apiece, well below the $12 to $14 per share range that the company had initially set for an offering of 9.6 million shares. The company’s stock is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange Friday under the symbol “AKCA.”

Akcea... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: PDUFA Progress, BCRA Redux, CAR-T Thumbs Up, & More

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 08:13

Government and industry are rife with awkward acronyms. Take PDUFA, for example.

First passed in 1992, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act allows the FDA to collect fees from biopharmaceutical companies when they apply for drug approval; those funds are designated for the regulator’s drug evaluation work. Congress must reauthorize the law every five years and it’s up for renewal this year. This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to renew PDUFA. As in previous years, lawmakers approved the measure with bipartisan support. It now advances to the Senate.

Moving on to legislation that does not enjoy bipartisan support, Senate... Read more »

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Teradata Acquires San Diego’s StackIQ to Strengthen Cloud Business

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 18:01

Dayton, OH-based Teradata (NYSE: TDC), which has roughly 1,000 employees at its Teradata Labs engineering unit in San Diego, says today it has acquired StackIQ, a six-year-old startup near San Diego that specializes in software used to automate datacenters in the cloud.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But reading between the lines, the acquisition has Oliver Ratzesberger’s fingerprints all over it.

When I talked with Ratzesberger early last year, he said Teradata was “heading full-steam into the cloud.” A former analytic software executive at eBay and Sears Holdings, Ratzesberger was helping to chart Teradata’s course from the... Read more »

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Unanimous Advice To FDA: Approve Landmark CAR-T Cancer Therapy

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 19:01

The first ever approval of a new kind of cancer immunotherapy called CAR-T is one step closer. A 10-member panel of doctors and researchers who advise the Food and Drug Administration recommended with a rare unanimous vote that the agency approve a treatment for kids and young adults with a severe form of leukemia who have run out of other options.

The therapy would involve genetically modifying a patient’s T cells to kill cancer and then infusing them back into the body. The dramatic effect of the treatment, known for years as CTL-019, was never questioned at the meeting. Of 68... Read more »

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Austin’s Riskpulse Formed in the Vortex of Two Weather-Tech Startups

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 09:58

Austin—For businesses that ship anything from mayonnaise to car parts, a change in temperature or an unexpected storm can mean bigger problems than just rotten eggs or stalled repairs. In this age of “just in time manufacturing,” entire factories might need to halt production if the right parts aren’t delivered, potentially costing thousands of dollars in delays.

That’s a problem that Austin-based Riskpulse says its data service can help resolve. The company, which has some roots in San Diego, sells analytics software that combines weather-monitoring services with risk-assessment data analysis to give customers an idea of whether their truck or... Read more »

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VCs Invest $406M in 61 SD Startups; TP Therapeutics Leads Q2 Deals

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 01:35

TP Therapeutics, which raised $45 million in May to advance its work on drug-resistant cancers, raised the most venture capital in San Diego County during the three months that ended June 30, according to regional data released today.

Altogether, venture firms invested a total of $406.4 million in San Diego companies during the second quarter, according to data from the Venture Monitor report from Seattle-based PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. That was down slightly from the $411.2 million that venture firms invested in San Diego startups during the first quarter, although the number of deals in the second quarter,... Read more »

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VC “Self-Correction” Continues in Second Quarter, and Top 10 Deals

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 01:01

[Updated 7/12/17, 8:38 am, to add MoneyTree data. See below.] U.S. venture capital investments are showing more signs of returning to steady levels.

Investors pumped $21.78 billion into 1,958 companies in the second quarter, according to data from the quarterly Venture Monitor report from Seattle-based PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).

The number of deals was roughly the same as in the first quarter of the year, but the total dollar amount grew 36 percent from the nearly $16 billion invested in the previous quarter. The report attributed that to the number of large deals. There were... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: BCRA Fireworks, Shkreli Muzzled, Endo Pulls Drug & More

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 07:30

The Fourth of July was this week, but members of Congress didn’t need to crane their necks skyward to see fireworks. Senators returned to their districts, where local news offered blistering headlines about the potential impact of the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Independence Day typically lets lawmakers mingle with constituents at picnics and parades, but few Republican senators took the opportunity to do so. Just four of the Senate’s 52 Republicans announced appearances at parades this year, the Washington Post reported. Behind the scenes, talks continued about amending the Better Care Reconciliation Act to win over... Read more »

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Bayer Signs Deal with San Diego’s SlantRange to Analyze Farm Data

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 16:34

SlantRange, a San Diego startup that specializes in providing agricultural data and analytics for farmers, has landed its first strategic agreement with a major agribusiness company. In a statement today, SlantRange says it is now working to collect and analyze crop data for Bayer Crop Science, a division of Bayer’s North American operations based in Research Triangle Park, NC.

“They are paying us; unfortunately, I can’t say the value,” SlantRange spokesman Matt Barre said by phone.

In developing its business model, SlantRange has steered clear of manufacturing drones or offering commercial drone services. Instead, the company sells a specialized airborne... Read more »

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